Friday Full-Length: Hawkwind, Hawkwind

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 8th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Hawkwind, Hawkwind (1970)

Like most humans who’ve never actually been in the band — there are still five or 10 of us left; we get together on weekends — I am viciously underqualified to discuss the life and times of Hawkwind. I haven’t even seen the BBC documentary, though I have to wonder how more than four (I think it was three at the time) decades of space-rock pioneering could possibly be summarized in a single viewing anyway. In any case, all of Hawkwind‘s groundbreaking, all of their lysergic push, all the drugs, all the riffs, and their insurmountable discography — they continue to release albums; I interviewed Dave Brock a few years back about one of them — all began with their 1970 self-titled debut. If you’re looking for the launch point, this would be it.

At the time, Hawkwind was Brock on vocals/guitar/keys, Nik Turner — who’s touring this fall with his own incarnation of the band — on sax/vocals, guitarist/vocalist Huw Lloyd, bassist/vocalist John A. Harrison, synth/key specialist Michael “Dikmik” Davies and drummer Terry Ollis. I doubt any of them could’ve known the movement they were beginning or the litigation they’d eventually undertake when they recorded this album live with The Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor, but as they continued to refine their sound (and lineup) over the next five years, getting through the classic 1971 outing, In Search of Space, en route to albums like 1974’s Hall of the Mountain Grill 1975’s Warrior on the Edge of Time, it became apparent that what they were doing was more than just the standard psychedelic fare, and the rhythmic thrust that became their signature is still widely influential today, 40-plus years after the fact.

That thrust is hardly writ large over the self-titled, but as you can hear as the record plays out, Hawkwind were pretty much making it up as they went along, and of course the tradeoff for self-realization on the part of a band is a necessary narrowing of focus. Hawkwind, the album, is all the more varied for the fact that the band hadn’t really taken shape yet, and so it captures a moment that, in all their releases, studio, live and whatever else, would never come again.

I hope you enjoy.

Tomorrow night, I’m going to drive north to Portland, Maine, to see the last of the three slated We’re all Gonna Die reunion shows. They’re playing with Murcielago and Blackwolfgoat, so I’m expecting a good time and a late night both. I haven’t been to a show in more than a month, with the move and all, so I’m very much looking forward to getting out for a bit and hearing something loud. The plan is to review on Monday.

Also Monday, I may or may not have a Steak video premiere? I’m not sure what’s going on with the timing of that, or if I’m doing a premiere or it’s just coming out, or what the deal really is. I figure it’ll get sorted sooner or later and I’ll adjust accordingly. While I’m talking about nascent plans that may or may not fall through, I got offered a Funeral Horse album stream today that I’d very much like to do because that band rules that I was hoping to do Tuesday. Got my fingers crossed it comes together.

The party don’t stop either way, though. Tuesday night High on Fire play the Sinclair in Cambridge and I’ll be out for that, because if you’re gonna jump back in, do it like you mean it, and I’ll hope Wednesday to get a piece up on that. More Radio Adds to come, and hopefully a review of the Witch Mountain record, which is a little more bittersweet now that Uta Plotkin has announced it’ll be her last with the band. So it goes.

Of course there’s other stuff too, but I can’t possibly imagine what it might be because my mind is in full-on Hawkwind drift. We’ll just have to figure it out when we get there.

Please have an excellent, safe weekend. Eat ice cream and kick ass, because you can.

And don’t forget to check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Nik Turner of Hawkwind to Release Space Gypsy Sept. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Former Hawkwind space rock pioneer Nik Turner is set to issue the new album Space Gypsy at the end of next month. To coincide, Nik Turner’s Space Ritual will embark on a full US tour starting Oct. 9, including a stop at the Fall into Darkness fest. The album release is fascinating enough, but the different versions of it make Space Gypsy an even more interesting prospect. Hard not to want to have a look at that box set version with the extra improvs from Turner and so on.

The PR wire has it like this:

Hawkwind Legend Nik Turner Returns To His Intergalactic Roots On New CD ‘Space Gypsy’ and Upcoming US Tour

Founding member of pioneering space-rock band Hawkwind returns to his intergalactic roots with his soon-to-be-released mind-blowing new CD titled ‘Space Gypsy’! Featuring all new material, ‘Space Gypsy’ boasts guest appearances by fellow Hawkwind alumnus violinist Simon House, and Gong guitar legend Steve Hillage, along with Nicky Garratt of the UK Subs, Jurgen Engler of German industrial band Die Krupps, and Jeff Piccinini of ’70s punk icons Chelsea. Making the CD release even more exciting, Nik Turner has released a dark, hypnotic new video called “Time Crypt featuring Simon House”. This is the second video Nik has released in support of ‘Space Gypsy’, the first being “Fallen Angel STS-51-L”; from the album’s first single about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Nik Turner’s Space Ritual Tour runs in the US from October 9th through November 17th in support of the new CD.

Nik Turner was a founding member of Hawkwind during what has been considered their most commercially successful and critically acclaimed period for the band from 1970 to 1976. He wrote/co-wrote some of the group’s most popular songs such as “Brainstorm” and“Master Of The Universe”. Hawkwind’s 4th and possibly most popular album ‘The Space Ritual Alive in Liverpool and London’ was recorded in 1972 (released in May 1973). Reaching #9 in the UK album charts and #179 in the Billboard Top 200, the double-record was recorded during the tour to promote the band’s ‘Doremi Fasol Latido’ (third) release. The Space Ritual show attempted to create a full audio-visual experience. The performances featured dancers, lightshow by Liquid Len and poetry recitations by Robert Calvert. Nik Turner recently brought his version of the historic show to the US shores, recreating the magic once again!

Says Nik Turner, “This single ‘Fallen Angel STS-51-L’ is the epitome of epiphanic, orgasmic, cathartic embodiment of my space dreams, become one man’s reality, exploding into space. Expect lots more on this awesome album”.

Nik Turner’s ‘Space Gypsy’ will be released in three different formats: A regular CD release packaged in an attractive digipak with original artwork; a limited edition gatefold vinyl with bonus etched 7-inch single; and for the ultimate collector – the complete experience! A special limited edition deluxe box version of ‘Space Gypsy’, which includes a bonus CD of rough mixes and instrumental versions that feature additional flute and saxophone improvisations from Nik not included on the album. Also included are 4 postcards, a gorgeous full color patch and collectible pin.

NIK TURNER’S SPACE RITUAL – US Fall 2013 Tour w/Hederselben
Wed 10.9 Eureka, CA at The Shanty w/White Manna
Thu 10.10 Portland, OR at Mississippi Studios – Fall Into Darkness VII Fest w/White Manna, Billions & Billions
Sat 10.12 Seattle, WA at Chop Suey w/Master Musicians of Bukkake
Wed 10.16 Salt Lake City, UT at Urban Lounge w/Secret Chiefs 3*
Sat 10.19 St Paul, MN at Turf Club w/Thunderbolt Pagoda
Sun 10.20 Milwaukee, WI at Cactus Club w/Moss Folk
Mon 10.21 Chicago, IL at Reggie’s
Thu 10.24 Pittsburgh, PA at Brillo Box w/The Sicks
Fri 10.25 Toronto, ON at Mod Club w/Sons of Otis
Tue 10.29 Boston, MA at Middle East Upstairs w/Ghost Box Orchestra
Wed 10.30 New Haven, CT at BAR (free show)
Thu 10.31 Easthampton, MA at Flywheel
Sat 11.2 Philadelphia, PA at Philamoca w/Stinking Lizaveta
Sun 11.3 Brooklyn, NY at Saint Vitus Bar w/NAAM
Tue 11.5 Charlotte, NC at Tremont Music Hall
Thu 11.7 Atlanta, GA at The Earl
Sun 11.10 Austin, TX at Fun Fun Fun Nites
Thu 11.14 Phoenix, AZ at Rhythm Room
Fri 11.15 San Diego, CA at The Casbah
Sun 11.17 Oakland, CA at TheUptown w/Carlton Melton
*no Hedersleben

To purchase Nik Turner ‘Space Gypsy’:

To purchase ‘Fallen Angel STS-51-L’ single on iTunes:

Nik Turner’s official website:

Nik Turner, “Time Crypt”

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Duuude, Tapes! Space Mushroom Fuzz, Seeing Double

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on May 6th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

As one expects to a certain degree with jam-based space rock, Space Mushroom Fuzz has proven to be pretty prolific in its almost a year of releases. During that time, Adam Abrams (also of Blue Aside and Palace in Thunderland), who handles vocals, writes, records and plays guitar, bass, sometimes drums and synth, has released three full-lengths, a single and an EP — the last of which just came out last month. These self-releases were digital-only at first, but CD-Rs have followed and Abrams has collected the first two LPs — When Time Trippers Collide and Something Weird’s Going On — and the two-song Trapped in the Past single onto a two-cassette boxed set called, fittingly enough, Seeing Double.

Seeing Double is limited to 20 copies with artwork by Ralph Walters (see also Blue Aside, Groan, etc.) and comes packaged like a book on tape from grammar school in a plastic case that houses both tapes at once, and the White Rabbit out front is nothing but appropriate for Abrams‘ ultra-trippy sonics contained within, whether it’s “Shine on You Crazy Train Pt. 1” from When Time Trippers Collide or the robo-acoustic swirl of “Scientist Sparks” from Something Weird’s Going On. Universally, the music is immersive, if somewhat underproduced, and intriguingly unpredictable. Sometimes Abrams and drummer John Belcastro embark on a go-long-go-strange space jam, and sometimes Abrams keeps the structures relatively terrestrial, as on the still-Floydian “The Other Side of Life,” the B-side to Trapped in the Past, which shows that just because Abrams puts a track to a verse and chorus doesn’t mean he can’t also make it as bizarre as he may so choose.

And if anything is apparent throughout Seeing Double it’s that Abrams so chooses to make it pretty damn bizarre. There’s a real turning point in methodology perceptible between the two full-lengths for when the synth became involved, and though the two full-lengths were home-recorded, Trapped in the Past found Space Mushroom Fuzz with the drums done by Clay Neely of Black Pyramid at Black Coffee Sound. Sure enough, the single is the fullest sounding slice on offer, but there’s still enough richness in “There’s Something Weird Going On Pt. 2” to convey the ’80s prog rock moodiness that Abrams is going for, low end serving as a bed for the sharp guitar solo and synth percussion. Each of the Space Mushroom Fuzz releases was recorded relatively quickly — the single took the longest — but there’s a progression at play over the course of the material on Seeing Double that one finds continued on the newest full-length, Man in the Shadow — not included in the cassette box set, but already released last month. One can no more stop a space rock catalog from expanding than one can stop space itself, it would seem.

So be it. I don’t know if Abrams would ever put together a band to play live as Space Mushroom Fuzz, but the studio excursions have proved interesting and varied to date and there seems to be no slowing down in the project’s will toward interstellar survey. Again, there are only 20 copies of Seeing Double made, so for a lucky few space rockers, Abrams and company provide a curio and collectors piece as much as a summation of the project’s first couple installments.

Space Mushroom Fuzz, Something Weird’s Going On (2012)

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Bandcamp

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks

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Friday Long-Player: The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic

Posted in audiObelisk on February 15th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I’ll be reviewing this one as well in the next month or so, but as California’s The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic made their self-titled debut available for streaming today through Bandcamp, it seemed only fair to cap the week with it. I hope you’ll forgive the preemptive doubling up. I’ve been stoked for this album since interviewing guitarist Ed Mundell and premiering a track from the band last year, so to finally hear the record in full is a boon.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a band moniker as ripe for acronymic representation as is The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic — a trio completed by the formidable rhythm section of bassist Collyn McCoy (Trash Titan) and drummer Rick Ferrante (Sasquatch) — and the band even occasionally refers to themselves as “The UEMG.” As such, though I don’t usually like to abbreviate band names, I’m on board this time around, and I’ve decided that should they come up in conversation, I’ll be pronouncing UEMG as “oo-meg,” which, you know, is fun.

As always, I hope you dig the selection.

What I week this was, and I hope you can hear me exhale as I type that knowing it’s “over” as much as it ever is. I feel like between The Eye of the Stoned Goat 2 last Saturday and the YOB show on Sunday, I was finished before I even crossed the starting line, but a couple late nights at work and my ass is pretty well kicked. We’re supposed to get some snow between now and then — nothing like last week — but my plan for tomorrow is to head into Brooklyn and catch Elder at The Acheron with It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Eidetic Seeing and Ancient Sky. Should be an evening of heavy reverb. If you’re going, I’ll see you there.

That review should be posted Monday if all goes to plan, and also look for writeups on new records by Magic Circle and Endless Boogie next week. The latter outfit are NYC native and playing Brooklyn tonight with Arbouretum. That’s actually a show I’d have loved to have seen, but Williamsburg on a Friday night’s a pretty daunting prospect these days, driving, parking and existence-wise. Still, the record’s killer so far and I’m looking forward to digging in deeper for the review this week.

Going to try and maybe work in some shorter-type reviews as well, with the thought that not every record benefits from the 1200-word treatise and that time is limited whereas my backlog is dauntingly infinite, but maybe that’ll be this week or maybe it’ll be never. In the more immediate is fixing The Obelisk Radio, which has been down for several days now and is bumming me out. Glad to say Slevin seems to be on the case. I registered this afternoon with a different company to host the stream and last I heard he’s got it in process in terms of switching over with minimal upset to anyone who may have put the playlist in iTunes or anything like that. I’ll keep you posted when I have some better sense of when it’ll be up and running. My hope is sometime over the weekend, but these things are rarely as simple as they seem or would preferably be.

Whatever you spend your weekend listening to, I hope it’s a great and safe one and that you enjoy the holy hell out of it. I’m down to 32 copies of the Clamfight CD, and if you haven’t bought one yet, I’d sure appreciate the support if you could. Either way, thanks as always. I’ll see you on the forum and back here Monday for more keyboard-driven shenanigans.

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Space Mushroom Fuzz Post Video for “Trapped in the Past”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 27th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

It’s only been a little over two months since Boston-based space rockers Space Mushroom Fuzz released their second album, Something Weird’s Going On, and only about six since their first full-length, When Time Trippers Collide (review here), was unveiled, so the two-piece have set a solid course of working quickly. Yet, I can’t help but notice that the song “Trapped in the Past,” for which they just today unveiled a new video, isn’t on either of those two albums.

The natural conclusion is that Space Mushroom Fuzz — the duo of Adam Abrams (also Blue Aside/Palace in Thunderland) and John Belcastro — already have more new stuff in the offing, which is an even more impressive pace than I previously thought. Either way, the video for “Trapped in the Past” is rife with a sort of low-budget psychedelic strangeness, Wonka-esque light flashes and periodic moments of clarity. It’s a trip, and you’ll find it on the player below.

I also thought I’d include the stream of Something Weird’s Going On from the Space Mushroom Fuzz Bandcamp page in case you wanted to dig a little further. Please enjoy:

Space Mushroom Fuzz, “Trapped in the Past”

And the full-length:

Space Mushroom Fuzz, Something Weird’s Going On

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Live Review: Bezoar and It’s Not Night: It’s Space in Brooklyn, 10.11.12

Posted in Reviews on October 12th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

I wasn’t sure what the deal was with the giant painted egg at the front of the stage before and during It’s Not Night: It’s Space‘s set last night at Public Assembly, but I liked it a lot. Like the trio’s music, it had more than a touch of ritual to it, with the lettering and all, and the instrumental trio didn’t mention anything about it while they were on stage, made no mention of its purpose that I caught, instead Kevin Halcott introducing the instrumental band by saying, “We’re It’s Not Night: It’s Space, and we’re from space,” before leading the way through wah-drenched heavy space-jamming.

Thursday night. I’d already had more than enough week by the time I left the office at about 8:30 to head into the show, but sometimes these things can’t be helped. I’ll spare you the moaning of my insignificant dramas — more because I’m too embarrassed to put them into words than out of time/place considerations — but what it rounds out to is it’s been a shitty week and I needed to get out in a bad way. The decision to hit Public Assembly and catch Bezoar and It’s Not Night: It’s Space was a last-minute thing, but Tommy Guerrero — dreadlocked bassist in the opening act — wasn’t through his first low-end shuffle before I knew I’d made the right choice.

Funny timing on the show, as It’s Not Night: It’s Space have a new CD available called Bowing Not Knowing to What that drummer Michael Lutomski emailed me this week to see about getting reviewed. I didn’t get to meet him at the gig, but hopefully I’ll have that review forthcoming, since I dug what they were doing on stage. The bass was heavy in the mix, and Halcott‘s guitar had some trouble standing up — at one point I realized I was standing by Guerrero‘s side of the stage and thought perhaps that was the issue and so switched sides, but even then the bass was dominant — but so much of that kind of heavy jam’s success comes from the chemistry of the players involved, and though it still felt nascent, they definitely had that going for them.

The band got together in 2010 and Bowing Not Knowing to What isn’t their first outing, but it doesn’t feel unreasonable to think of the New Paltz unit as still getting their bearings in a live setting. There were stretches where Halcott seemed in his own world while Lutomski and Guerrero held down the rhythm and some of the timing on his weaving in and out of joining them felt more plotted than the jam preceding, and that undercut a bit of the spontaneity, but honestly, I’m not convinced it was anythingHalcottplaying through a full stack couldn’t have easily fixed, volume adding presence and authority.

But they’ve got time to get there, and in the meantime, they offered engaging jams — “Vibration Eater” from the new album was a highlight — and gave a solid showing of themselves ahead of Brooklyn natives Bezoar, who took the stage around 11PM. Between the sets, I ran into Drew Mack, now formerly of Hull, who said he’s joined the ranks of the band Clean Teeth and that they had a new album in the works — he also said to check out Dead Sands and Blackout, which were appreciated recommendations — so that’s good news, and before too long, Bezoar had loaded up the full stacks belonging to bassist/vocalist Sara Villard (who recently curated a playlist for this very site) and guitarist Tyler Villard as well as Justin Sherrell‘s extensive kit-of-many-toms, and they were ready to go.

This was my second time seeing Bezoar after catching them over the summer at the Saint Vitus bar (review here), and though I never reviewed it to my regret, I very much enjoyed their debut CD, Wyt Deth, released earlier this year. Watching them last night, they seemed like the kind of band that could be dangerous if they decide to tour over the long term. I know it’s rarely as simple as “deciding,” but the trio have very quickly honed a surprisingly individualized approach out of a gamut that runs from droning doom to raging post-black metal musically, and while the material was plenty tight, they without a doubt have the potential to do something really special both as a stage act and in terms of their songwriting, which already showed growth in the new song they shared with the crowd.

Here’s the thing about Justin Sherrell: He’s a fucking great drummer. You know those drummers who, when they’re warming up before the set even starts, seem to announce their awesomeness by busting out some wild fill to “test the mics?” Sherrell plays like that but with less ego. In the new song Bezoar played — I don’t think the name was offered and if it was, I didn’t catch it — as Sara and Tyler locked into a huge grooving riff — one of those riffs you call “The Riff” — Sherrell seamlessly kept pace with the changes, playing crisply and creatively in a way most drummers dream of, making the hard parts sound easy. I’m usually in the “if you have more than two mounted toms, you’re just jerking off” camp, but the dude earns every piece of that kit.

And even better, that new song was the best the band played, and they played it like they knew it. Gave me something to look forward to in the follow-up to Wyt Deth, whatever form it might take when it surfaces. They’re getting really good really quickly, and it was exciting to watch.

The Phantom Family Halo was still to come, but I made it an early night knowing there was still more week to come today — the right move, as it turns out, since the 45 minutes it took to get across Manhattan and back to the Lincoln Tunnel would’ve been even more grueling past 1AM — and split after Bezoar were finished. The Yankees were soon to lose to tie up the playoff series with the Orioles, and I rolled back into my humble river valley just a couple minutes after the postgame wrapped, slathered some leftover pizza in pesto and called it a night. It was the most relaxed I’d been in seven days.

The lighting at Public Assembly‘s always pretty rough-going in that back room, but there are a few extra pics after the jump. Thanks for reading, as always.

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